572 THE IRON INDUSTRY.
This is an important matter in Kussia, where there is an immense commerce in the transportation of products down river on rafts and barges which are broken up for lumber at the end of the journey, there being no need of a return cargo.
Second: The Eussian Government prohibits the destructive deforesting of lands, so that the same area may be reckoned as affording a sure supply of charcoal in a given number of years.
Third: After allowing for the growth of population, the Urals have 40,000,000 acres of perpetual forest land, equal to a space 250 miles square, and this will produce charcoal sufficient to make 4,700,000 tons of pig-iron per year. This charcoal can be made for $4.25 per ton.
Fourth: The ore is abundant and some of it of the best quality. These facts are not disputed and it becomes a question why there is not a more rapid development in the region. This subject was made the occasion for an investigation by the Government. It was shown that onerous restrictions and routine imposed by the Government itself were responsible for much of the trouble, in great contrast to the encouragement given to industries in South Russia. Quite as serious a matter was the system of land tenure, for a great part of the land has not yet been allotted to the serfs set free a generation ago,, and as no man knows what land he will have or how much he will get, it can hardly be expected that he will take much interest in any part of it, or spend money on improvements. Another factor is the law providing that landed proprietors must furnish steady work to people living on the estate, and under these circumstances it can hardly be expected that labor-saving machinery will be introduced.
A peculiar feature is the status of what are styled "Possession Works." These are owned by the Government and leased to individuals or companies. They embrace 6,000,000 acres of forest land, equal to an area 100 miles square, and the blast furnaces produce 200,000 tons per year, or one-third the production of the Urals. The terms of lease prohibit the proprietor from making improvements or changes without special authority from the State. There are numberless petty prohibitions, as, for instance, the sub-letting of leaseholds, etc., that render an efficient management entirely out of the question. Coupled to these conditions is the natural opposition of media3val feudal proprietors to changing the existing order.